In this edition of “Why we do what we do”, the spotlight is finally shining on the unsung bio/food enthusiasts who would probably surprise you. These students are not here to pick at your eating habits, as they themselves believe that balance is key, and this balance includes tasty food. With similar yet different perspectives, meet four of UNMC’s nutrition students.
When asked why she chose nutrition, she gave me a very honest answer, “I just really didn’t want to do medicine.” Nutrition was a compromise. Medicine would have been something she would have to make herself learn, nutrition was already something she was passionate about and she certainly does not regret her choice. She hopes to venture out to get a post grad in dietetics, then come back to her homeland and contribute. She explains how the expenses to make better food choices in Malaysia is just too high and that people end up opting for cheaper mamak food.
People are always so focused on the cure that they forget about prevention
She thinks that unhealthy food intake is the major cause for future health complications. A firm believer of traditional methods of being healthier, she points out that the new fad diets are just based off of traditional ones that have died down and are heavily commercialized. Although people will see results, it is an unhealthy way to “look healthier”. Dieting is more than that, it’s a lifestyle that is gradually cultivated.
Siti Nuraisyah Najwa
Now a second year student at UNMC, Najwa’s story on why she chose to study nutrition is not an ordinary one with full of childlike hopes and dreams. She started out with Pharmaceutical Science, but decided to switch courses due to some complications with her schedule and exam timetables. Ahhhhhh memories. She decided to choose nutrition because it was heavy in biology, compared to pharmaceutical sciences, which was heavy in chemistry.
I just really wanted to do something that could help people out
Najwa initially chose pharmaceutical sciences as she wanted to grow up to help other people and thought that through the production of drugs, she could do just that. Her dream still lives, except now its through nutrition! She has developed a strong interest in nutrition and is currently doing well. When asked about her thoughts on fad diets such as juice cleanses, she got really technical about fructose and how too much of it is really bad but the bottom line is, everyone is going to do what they CHOOSE to believe in. So make well informed choices, unmcians.
Sarah binti Kamel Raquq
Since Sarah was young, she always had an interest in biology. In high school, she did confirm that biology was her main interest, but as she says, “Not the plant stuff, just the human stuff”. Sarah is fascinated by how the human body works on a very detailed level and places emphasis on having a balanced lifestyle. She believes that the increasing obesity rates are not solely attributed to unhealthy food intake but also, the lack of physical activity.
You can eat as much as you want but in turn you will have to do more physical activities. It is all about balance.
She also believes that there is no timestamp for someone to change their habits and making better choices for health purposes. If you have the motivation, then you will just do it and if you don’t then well… that would take a little longer. She also stresses that no one can ever change someone else’s lifestyle, the effort has to come from within. Sarah is part of an obesity awareness program by UNMC that partners with local primary schools, but expresses the reluctance in participation by the schools. She hopes to further her studies in food engineering after she graduates.
President of the Nutrition club of 2015/2016, Sadiya is definitely one passionate person about nutrition and food. Spending most of the time of the interview ranting about Sri Lankan food and successfully making me just as hungry, there is no doubt that Sadiya has always been all about that coconut milk life. When asked why she chose Nutrition, she explained how she was stuck between biomedical sciences and nutrition but decided to go with nutrition because:
I love food, like I LOOOOOOOOOOVE FOOD. So I thought, why not?
Just like Najwa, she cultivated her interest in Nutrition only after starting her degree in UNMC. She expresses how she feels that it is very difficult for everyone to have access to proper nutrition due to the lack of food at some parts of the world, and too much in another. She believes that children should be educated about their health choices from a young age, so that people can grow up to be more aware and hopefully, live a healthier lifestyle so that in turn, the future generations would follow in their footsteps. She hopes to become a role model, and does her best to maintain her health on the outside and the inside.
There is this constant pressure for all of us to be and look the best we can. Often times in that state, we forget to do what makes us feel healthy and instead use measures to get there that do us more harm than good. The media especially loves to focus on crazy “healthy” food trends and toned bodies and it is such a hard thing to do, to change your habits with just a snap of a finger to fit these unreasonable standards with the false hope that a model-esque body is just that easy to obtain. Through my conversations with these lovely people, they have taught me that there is so much more to consider as to what balance really means.
By Marini Shariff